Hollywood Goes Mad for Bollywood

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Bollywood Step Dance performs at the 8th Annual Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Awards on August 23, 2010 in Burbank. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The flirtation becomes official today when LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signs a joint declaration between the City of Los Angeles and the Indian film industry to "develop and strengthen motion picture production, distribution, technological, content protection and commercial cooperation between the two filmmaking communities and increase Indian production in the City of Los Angeles."

Welcome to the new era of film/TV/ad shoot cultivation. So Cal entertainment industry boosters have largely flailed about helplessly as other cities, states and countries steal away the business with tax breaks, subsidies (and in some cases non-union labor). Now, that sucking sound you here is the pull to bring foreign shoots here.

What exactly is Los Angeles promising?

Help with US visa issues that bedevil a lot of visiting artists, including Indian filmmakers. There's also talk about getting Indian theatrical releases into "mainstream" cinemas. (As compared to the film festival circuit, or Naz8 Cinemas, showing Indian, Afghani, Pakistani, Iranian, Chinese, Korean and Phillipino films in Fremont, Yuba City, and Artesia.)

Last month, the Los Angeles City Council asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would restructure its entertainment production tax. Yeah, that's probably going to be awhile, but it's a start.

More broadly, the Motion Picture Association of America is looking to collaborate with Indian authorities to crack down on less-than-$1 DVD knock-offs of Hollywood films. Indian filmmakers presumably wouldn't mind seeing American authorities crack down on the bootlegged Bollywood fare readily available at grocery stores here in the US.

Joining Mayor Villaraigosa at today's event: California Film Commissioner Amy Lemisch (appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004.)  She can tell you tax credits make a difference, and the LA Times will add, to the extent they can.

Regardless, says the Wall Street Journal, a Hollywood-Bollywood pact would be a fitting way to recognize a relationship that's already blossoming into a romance.

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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